Take My Stojakovic, Please?

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Published: June 2, 2009

Before we get to the meat of this post, I do want to say speculationg about trading Peja makes me feel a little sad.  I like Peja, and I think he’s still a valuable player.  Unfortunately, I also think he is redundant, and that Posey, Butler, or in some respects, Julian Wright, can provide similar or more contributions – or would be easier to package into the cap relief the Hornets need.  That, of course, leaves Peja and his contract to help the Hornets make any actual roster changes they might need.

To follow up on yesterdays proposed trade of Peja for Randolph, I figured I’d do a little more real analysis on whether Peja is moveable.  Up until now,  my first assumption was that Peja was with us until he was an expiring contract, and built trades around that assumption. However, it’s been proven again and again that no player is untradeable – if a player has a huge salary and is underperforming that salary, there is always another player doing the same somewhere else.  So I completed an excercise listing underperforming and highly paid players on other teams, and figured out whether I think the Hornets could, should, or would move Peja for them.  Enjoy:

Zach Randolph:  See the Trade Speculation Post, Part 1Could it happen? I think this could get done. 

Samuel Dalembert: Dalembert appears to have worn out his welcome in Philadelphia, and carries a contract that’s fairly close to Peja’s.  Since Philly is likely to start Brand at center next year and run Thaddeus Young at power forward in an all-athletic lineup, this could get done.  Peja would be a solid contributor in such a situation, providing shooting from the wings the 76ers currently lack.  For the Hornets, Dalembert is still a very good rebounder – though I worry because he’s now worn out his welcome both in Philly and the Canadian National Team – and both those teams could really use a determined rebounder. Could it happen? I think this could get done.

Shaquille O’Neal: It looks like Phoenix would like to go back to being run n’ gun.  Shaq doesn’t fit that style – but does fit the Hornets slower style.  Peja would be useful in a run and gun style, too, firing from deep.  However, I do wonder if Phoenix would want to bring in salary that will still be on their cap during the summer of 2010.  Still, this wouldn’t be a disaster for the Hornets, particularly if followed by other moves.  Could it happen? Maybe.

Ben Wallace: Wallace may retire, he may not.  He’s still a serviceable big man reserve, particularly as a rebounder, but he is greatly limited at this point in his career.  The Cavaliers are looking for that one piece to put them over the top NEXT YEAR, however, and I’m not sure they’d view Peja as that piece, particularly with LeBron James playing the same position.  Though I will say – Peja’s better than Szczerbiak, both offensively and defensively.  Could it happen?:  Doubtful.  But how desperate is Cleveland GM Danny Ferry?

Golden State’s Wings:  Golden State has a myriad of overpaid players – Ellis, Crawford, Maggette(sorta), and Stephen Jackson.  Peja actually wouldn’t be a bad fit for the Warriors, since he can run the floor and take three pointers all the freaking time, and all of those players (other than Crawford) have contracts that run much longer than Peja’s does so it could be moderately enticing.  If I was Bower, I’d at least make an offer.  Could it happen?  Doubtful.

Jamaal Tinsley:  Here’s an interesting thought.  Tinsley didn’t even play this year, as the Pacers exiled him.  But combine him with the also overpaid Mike Dunleavy Jr, and this could have legs.  Tinsley, though injured a lot, wouldn’t be a terrible backup at the PG, and Dunleavy would be a little bit of an upgrade on the wing for Peja.  The Pacers finally get rid of Tinsley – and don’t have to worry about playing Dunleavy getting irritated playing behind Danny Granger.  Of course, the likelihood of Byron Scott saying “Sure, let’s get Tinsley” is about as likely as him suddenly growing out a full-on afro.  Could it happen? Doubtful.

Gerald Wallace:  The Bobcats always seem to be considering trading the somewhat injury prone and seemingly positionless Wallace.(is he a 3 or a 4?)  Peja’s contract runs two years shorter than Wallace’s, which could be attractive to the Cash-strapped and poorly shooting Bobcats, especially if the Hornets took another bad contract like Nazr Mohammed at the same time.  Still, I have a feeling the Bobcats could get a much better package for Wallace than Peja + a Pick from a team like Portland.  If the Hornets did pull this off, I’d dance naked in the street.  Okay, maybe not.  No reason to scar the children in my neighborhood.  Or their parents.   Could it happen? Doubtful.

Andrei Kirilenko:  Kirilenko frequently ends up being persona non grata in Utah, and is clearly overpaid despite the myriad of things he does well on the floor.  Though Peja would be an asset in a Sloan’s offense, coming off screens for shots, I’m not sure Sloan would see him as tough enough of a player.  Both players have the same contract length, but Kirilenko’s is slightly bigger, so the Hornets would have to send someone like Armstrong along with him.  Still, if I had to pick a player to be on my team, I’d go for Kirilenko, which makes this trade: Could it happen? Doubtful.

Gilbert Arenas:  I can’t see anyone trading for him until he proves his knee isn’t swiss cheese.  If he does, he may not be overpaid either – though I doubt that. Could it happen? Unlikely.

Kirk Hinrich: I put him here because he makes 9.5 mil, and is probably worth more like 6.5 or 7 mil.  He’s in a bit of a logjam with the Bulls fielding Salmons, Rose and Gordon as legitimate guards, and he’d make a nice ballhandler for the Hornets off the bench.  Still – Peja makes a lot more than he does, and though the Bulls would have Peja come off the cap quicker, he doesn’t fit their youthe movement, would compete with highly-paid Loul Deng for minutes, and there are teams out there who can offer more for a pretty solid piece. Could it happen?  Unlikely.

Eddy Curry: Curry has two more years, but at a lower salary number than Peja.  In D’Antoni’s system of running and shooting, Peja would actually have some value.  Curry is essentially a poor Zach Randolph:  A headcase capable of scoring inside, but without the rebounding.  If we were going this route, I’d prefer Randolph hands down. For the Knicks, any trade that would increase the amount of salary the Knicks have in 2010 is most likely dead on arrival. Could it happen? Unlikely – Plus, just think how huge Curry would get eating N’awlins food.

Kenyon Martin:  I have a feeling after Martin’s defensive performance in this year’s playoffs, the Nuggets will be unlikely to move their heavily overpaid Power Forward, particularly for a Small Forward, since I hear they already have a small forward or something.  Could it happen?  Unlikely – which is good, because I can’t stand Martin.  The lips tatoo on his neck is bad enough, but his arrogant demeanor just sets my teeth on edge.

Erick Dampier:  Dampier is pretty heavily overpaid, though not as much as Peja.  Cuban is known to take risks, and not have any issues at paying big salaries, but Peja doesn’t seem to be the sort of splash he likes.  The Mavs already have Howard(he could be on this list too) next year at the small forward, and his contract expires sooner, so trading Dampier for a second small forward seems pointless.  Could it happen? Unlikely.

Tracy McGrady:  McGrady is persona non grata in Houston, and I would be stunned if he came back and produced much of anything next year. Houston’s GM Daryl Morey sets heavy store by statistical analysis – and Peja rates well in adjusted numbers – but terribly in efficiency.  In the end I can’t see Morey trading a valuable massive expiring contract right before the 2010 free agent bonanza for two years of a declining wing shooter.  Could it happen?  Unlikely.

Vince Carter:  He’s not as overpaid as some think – and New Jersey will be looking to take back shorter contracts than his, not ones that last the same amount of time.  Could it happen? Not a chance.

Michael Redd or Richard Jefferson:  Both players are paid like superstars, but aren’t really.  However, both are better than Peja, and are paid for the same length of time.  The Bucks gain nothing by trading for him.  Could it happen? Not a chance.

Jermaine O’Neal:  O’Neal may be underperforming, and the Heat do need a decent small forward, but O’Neal’s contract is expiring, the Heat have no other viable center under contract for next year, and there is no way they are messing with the huge amount of Salary Cap space they’ve been amassing for 2010.  Could it happen? Not a chance.

So there you have it – three trades that at least wouldn’t be laughed at by the GM receiving the call – and a bunch of really unlikely scenarios.  Happily, those three trades are three more than I thought were possible when I started this excercise – and all address one of the primary Hornet’s problems:  Front Court Depth and Rebounding.

Hope your having as much fun as I am with this pointless speculation. :)

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